After Timothy Geithner won his old job of treasury secretary, Larry Summers' return to government as director of the National Economic Council might seem like a consolation prize. On the contrary, writes David Leonhardt in the New York Times, Summers will have a prime role in the new administration: the "fearless truth teller" who will have to bring order to the proposed $600 billion stimulus package.
Unlike anyone else in the Democratic Party, Summers has spent the past years as a kind of shadow minister, "laying out in real time how a Democratic administration would have responded to the financial crisis." He often cites Japan's lost decade as proof that big, bold gestures are needed to avoid disaster. And while others in Obama's administration will work the levers of the economy, Summers may have a more important role: foil to Obama and Geithner at a moment when "the stakes are clearly huge."